Anxiety is a normal reaction to uncertainty and things that may harm us. For many of us, the coronavirus and the COVID-19 illness make for a very uncertain future. People worry about their own health and the health of their loved ones, here and abroad. People may also have a lot of concerns around school or work, their finances, their ability to take part in important community and social events and hobbies, and other important parts of their lives. People who already experience a lot of anxiety may find their anxiety worsening.
It’s important to be kind to yourself. This is an anxious and stressful time for everyone, and it’s okay if you feel more anxious than usual, and it’s okay to take time for yourself to manage your mental health. You are doing the best you can in a time when simply turning on the news can feel overwhelming.
While anxiety is a normal and expected reaction to the pandemic, too much anxiety can start to cause harm. Feeling stressed and fearful every day takes a toll on health and well-being very quickly. When anxiety and fear lead to panic, people may also take precautions that ultimately cause disruptions, like demanding a lot of tests or medical care when it isn’t necessary or stockpiling certain supplies to the point that those supplies aren’t available to people who are sick and need those items.
What can I do about coronavirus and the COVID-19 illness?
When you feel anxious and uncertain about the future, it’s easy to feel hopeless. Coronavirus and the COVID-19 illness may seem out of your control, but that isn’t entirely true.
Take care of yourself
Eat as well as possible, exercise regularly, get enough sleep, and make time for hobbies.
Stay connected with family and friends
Isolating yourself from others, such as staying home from school or working from home for longer periods of time, can affect your mood. Find ways to connect with people you care about in other ways. If you can’t see someone in person, you can still reach out by phone, text, or video call.
Help others if you can
People who are more vulnerable to coronavirus and the COVID-19 illness may have to take extra precautions or isolate themselves more than others. Ask friends, family members, or neighbours if they need anything, such as groceries or other household needs. Simply checking in regularly by phone, text, or video call can make a big difference.
Helping others also includes being mindful of the supplies you keep at home. Excessive stockpiling means that your neighbours and other community members no longer have access to those supplies and it increases costs.
Cut back on the amount of time you spend on social media and the news
It’s important to be informed, but constantly checking for updates or reading sensationalized stories can really take a toll on your mental health. Stick to trusted, verified news sources and limit yourself if social media or news stories increase your anxiety.
Some people find it helpful to talk through anxiety-provoking situations like coronavirus and the COVID-19 illness, but others may find that conversations make their anxiety worse. If you need to limit conversations, it’s okay to tell family, friends, and co-workers that you can’t participate. Just make sure you don’t ignore all news and important messages—the goal is to take in the information you need and cut down on the excess, not ignore the situation altogether.
Explore self-management strategies
Explore self-management strategies like mindfulness, yoga, meditation, art, or exercise to manage anxious thoughts.